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15 things to never say or do in Paris | DESIGN THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE | Lynne Knowlton

Ready to get your Frenchie on?

Ready to take a road trip down Frenchie lane to Paris today?

Ready to learn about Parisians and life in Paris ?

Oh la la….

Have I got a surprise for you.

There is a delicious something-something in this blog post for you.

Parisians aren’t as bad as you think.  Yes they are.

 The truth is ~ even Parisians don’t like Parisians.

And you think I joke.

I pinky swear it is the truth.    You are my peep.   You know I wouldn’t lie to you.



15 things to never say or do in Paris | DESIGN THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE | Lynne Knowlton[pinit]

How do I know these facts?

I lived in Paris for 2 years.

Although I am Canadian ~ contrary to popular belief ~ not all Canadians speak French.

Shocking, right?  Right.


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


Canadians  &   the   French   Language  :


The only time a Canadian speaks/reads French is in Quebec or in the grocery store.

All Canadian food labels are in French and English.  Interesting, right?   Riveting.  Not.

Moving to Paris meant that I had to learn some French language skills and definitely some Frenchie French Frenchy culture.

{ PS. I learned how to speak French with free podcasts from  Coffee break French }  They were my first entry in the podcast world and it was worth it.  Fabulosa learning.

As a non-French-speaking-newbie to Paris…. it had it’s ups and downs.  It is not all french pastries and lovey dovey frenchiness.

Yes, it is one beautiful city.  Gorgeous actually.

That’s not the point.  One can not live on good looks.  *boohoo*


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


Living in Paris meant that sometimes things went horribly wrong.  Times like when I went shopping for boeuf bourguignon ingredients and came home with scouring pads and wine.

At least I had the liquor.  And I drank it.

The cashier was mean French to me.   It’s all her fault.  She drove me to drink.   I drank with purpose.

Later that day, as I sipped my Frenchie wine and stared at my scouring pads ~I plotted ways on how I would get back at her and her little-miss-bad-ass-frenchie-attitude.

Note to self :  It doesn’t work when you say :


"Shut your French face"


Life, in Paris was a whole other box of crayons for this Canuck.  It took some time, but I learned to embrace its awesomeness.  I learned how to survive amongst the French culture.

It was as if a lightbulb came on and it shone bright.  It blinded me with stupidity and yet made me feel all warm and fuzzy because *whew* I was finally starting to understand the French culture.

Thank Gawd.  My liver thanked me later.



Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


Am I the only numskull that this happens to?  Nope.


There are lessons to learn about visiting Paris.  Learn them, and you will be golden.  Learn them and you will be sipping French wine along the canal and feeling the bliss.  Learn them and you will enjoy Paris in all its glorious awesomeness.

Learn them and you may have the opportunity to become a part of this*

*More on that in a moment.

First.  Pay attention class.  Yes, I just tapped the chalkboard with my pointy thingy.  The thing that makes you pay attention.  You have some Frenchie learnin’ to do.


5  Things to never never never ever say to a French person :


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton

1.    “No, I don’t have the exact change right down to the very last centime.”

Exactly?!  Exact ?   Why are you looking at me like that?


2.   “I don’t speak french.  Do you speak English ?”


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


ps. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know jack about speaking French.  Learn a few words if you want to live a little longer.  The stink eye from a Parisian can kill.


3.   Starting any sentence that doesn’t begin with the word Bonjour


Don’t ever just blurt out a question.  Like ever.  NEVER.   Start every conversation with :

” Bonjour, Madame or bonjour Monsieur…”



4.   “This food doesn’t taste very good.”

It rarely happens in Paris, but when you do get a bad meal… just eat what you can.  If you can’t finish it, just pretend you were full.

You’re welcome.  I just saved your life.   Death by a waiter is never a good thing.


5.    Calling a waiter garçon



You will be shot.  I can’t promise what will be in your food.  If it ever arrives at your table, eat with caution.

Better yet, stand still.  I will punch you in the groin for saying that unmentionable waiter word.


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton



10 Things to Never Ever Never Do in Paris :


1.   Wear sweatpants, shorts, or running shoes.

If you look like you are about to do something sporty in your attire, turn around…

Do it.  Turn.

Go back into your hotel room and get changed.


Parisians avoid dressing like they’re going to hike the Matterhorn.  You’d best do the same.


2.  Expect flattery.

You will never hear a Parisian say that something is extraordinary, awesome, epic, incredible.  Like Taylor Swift never.

Things are ‘pas mal’  = ‘not bad’

You could get be an Olympic Gold Medalist. It won’t matter.  ‘Not bad’  still applies.  They won’t care if you are holding a medal.

It is quite possible that they have to hand in their French passport to the Government if they use the word awesome.


3.  Travel on a French holiday.

Good luck with that. It is the perfect time of year for a strike.  Strikes happen all.the.time and usually when you have to get somewhere very fast and very important to get to.


4.   Return something to any retail store. { Gasp }


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


Their policy for returns is… buy a new one.  

It doesn’t matter if you bought it yesterday, if you have a receipt, or if you are the Queen of the Universe.

You own it.

For forever.



5.   Expect to hail a taxi

Not going to happen. You must find a designated taxi station.  Finding a designated taxi station and standing in the right taxi spot is equivalent to seeing a full moon while facing North West on a hot sunny day.




6.   Be naive enough to think that Parisians don’t butt in line.

They do it. All.The.Time.  Funny enough, the hot glare you may give them at the back of their head does not burn a hole.

Believe me.

Tried.   Tested.  And true.



7.  Drive a car.

Unless you say your prayers nightly.  And you know how to park a car like stuffing a whale into a can of sardines.  Do you want to know how a Parisian parallel parks their car?  They hit the car in front and then the one in behind.  It is like bumper cars in 12 square feet.

Quite entertaining, actually.

Get some popcorn.  Be prepared to be entertained.


Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in #Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


8.  Make plans on a Sunday or expect normal store hours.

Don’t do it.  You will suffer.  The city shuts down on Sunday. Period.

Store hours can be cray-cray.

Store sign example : Open from 10-2 and closed from 2-5.  Reopening again on a different day when you aren’t available.

Just drink wine and get over it.  This too shall pass.



9.   Slather butter and bread together and put it on a side plate.

Design the Life You Want to Live : 15 things to never say or do in Paris. A fun story via @lynneknowlton


The horrors.  It doesn’t happen.  Butter does not go on bread.  You silly fool.

PS. And don’t you dare put that bread on a plate.

That is what the table is for.




10.  Talk loudly.

You will die a thousand deaths from French stares.

You might as well paste a sticky note on your forehead that says :

 I'm a tourist and I'm stupid.



Now, my frenchie pal… you are ready for Paris.  Your lesson is complete.

Class dismissed.  Sip ‘yer wine.



15 things to never say or do in Paris | DESIGN THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE | Lynne Knowlton



PS. Do you have a Parisian story?  Share with sugar bear in the comments below.



Now it’s your Frenchie turn.  Tell me your Paris hot tips.  Do you have a favourite cafe?  An ahhhmazing thaaang to do?

Whaaaa?  You haven’t been to Paris ?  Want to get there?  Stick around.  November has a cool surprise waiting for you.

Be the first to hear about it by signing up here to free weekly blog posts AND get a free instantly downloadable book of my insider tips and tricks to photography.  Hint:  It doesn’t involve buying expensive camera equipment.

This blog is a cool place to hang out at.  I promise.

Now get writing in the comment section and let me know about your love of Paris


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  1. jackie says:

    Great read, thanks for sharing! I am traveling to paris tomorrow and literally just jotted some of these tips down. Your blog just made my American friends and I laugh pretty hard. Here’s to hoping our trip is smooth sailing! 🙂

  2. Jewels says:

    I just came across your blog, through a link, then another link, and then I couldn’t stop reading. I have a complete and utter love affair with Paris; we’ve been in a relationship for 14+ years now. It’s a love, hate kind. It’s rude, expensive, far away, populated with tourists and filled with delicious food that make my thighs explode, but nevertheless, I go back for more.

    I found your post purely awesome….oh wait…pas mal. Short memory term loss suffering. Great read, and thanks for the laugh(s). I dream of one day staying at Le Meurice or Plaza Athenee (especially the suite Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & the City stayed in).

    P.S. Slightly in love with your commenting font, I kind of just want to continue typing to see the pretty letters! 🙂

  3. CgX says:

    As a French (not from Paris but south of France), the “Bonjour” thing is 100% true ! A simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” in the evening is a minimum to be quite well treated all over the country by Frenchies, even if they seemed to be mean in the first place ^_^

    The loud talking is also true but english-native speakers are not the worst in that case. Italians speakers are waaay louder so don’t panic 😀

    Paris is a special city and even non-parisian Frenchies must take some advices from Parisians ! Just two examples :
    – Never ever smile in the Metro (to avoid bad guys ?)
    – You MUST walk quickly ! If you are a slow walker, you will be bumped by others (rude but true)

    PS : Excuse me for my possilby bad English (yes it’s true, we are bad at foreign languages too o_O)

    • Thank you for writing ! It is sooooooooo fabulous to have a note from someone who is French. Luckily, we had a few French friends who taught us the ‘culture’ and we quickly realized that it was more culture than just being mean. It all started to make sense after a while.

      Isn’t it amazing what a quick bonjour or bonsoir will do? Whew.

      Wait, the Italians are louder? I kind of like that. LOL.

      The metro : you know, that is a great point about the smiling. I always thought that smiling at another woman was a negative thing so I never smiled at anyone. Ha. Totally opposite to what you would do in Canada. We smile at everyone !

      I love love love learning how the different cultures live. It’s so intriguing.

      Thanks for your beautiful note.

      Bisous !
      Lynne xx

  4. Deborah Main says:

    Love it!!! I saw the Embrace Paris trip and hope to write up something fab to convince the higher ups in the Parisian world that I. Must be one of the last two selected to go on thiat Paris trip. Ive read your blog post….so doesnt that already qualify moi?? Great post and finally saw recap of the kickass blogging training. That was kickass GREAT!!! Thx for all the blogging tips. Im testing my wings as a “blogger” at my first blogging event this Friday. Id better get a blog post out quick!!! Thx darlin for keeping us laughin. xo

  5. WOW, I guess my natural loud laughter will be severely frowned upon. Now some of these I was aware of and others not at all. I feel like I need to mind everything I say and do; with a little humor of course. I’m going to Paris next week and these tips are fantastic. Thanks Lynne!!!

  6. […]  My friend Lynne’s :15 Things to Never Say or Do in Paris […]

  7. Carole says:

    A few years ago I was invited to apartment-sit a friend’s friend’s place in Paris. OOh la la. Five weeks with two women friends in Paris! We packed our bags, practised our French (Parisian not Quebecois), and eagerly awaited our adventure.
    After gathering the above mentioned bags and being taken on an unplanned sightseeing tour of the city by a cab driver, we were dropped off at the lime green apartment door.
    We foolishly entered the foyer giggling only to be faced with newly washed floors and our concierge (yes she was every bit as mean as we expected!) Oh the tsk tsking we received!
    Thankfully by the end of the five weeks we had endeared ourselves to the husband of the concierge by joining the neighbourhood for their evening wine sipping and gossiping on the benches along the sidewalk.
    I loved almost every minute of being a guest in such an exciting city. I’d love to spend more time in Paris with some girlfriends again. On another trip I’d like to go with my husband so we can kiss on the bridges and saunter along the streets holding hands.

  8. […] are super reasonable in price, and you can buy from an artiste <— I said that with my Frenchie accent.  Saahweet.   […]

  9. IMen says:

    Excellent post Lynne….looking forward to Paris!!!!! xx

  10. Patricia says:

    Luuurrrv Paris. I lived in London all my adult life until recently. So it was easy to take the Chunnel (train) or fly. After a wonderful meal one evening, my hubby & I were meandering along enjoying the sights and people watching. We were surrounded by lots of people on the Champs Elyssee when all of a sudden I bent down with him wondering what I was doing. I had worn stockings & suspenders and fancy undies – when in Paris, do as the Parisians, not my usual Briget Jones Big Pants! My skimpy, extravagantly expensive pants were around my ankles! So, I simply stepped out of them, bent down to discreetly cover them in my hand, stuffing them into my pocket & laughed my stockings off! It was hilarious…………. After my initial horror! Not so funny when he got food poisoning from his beef tartare. Au revoir x

    • Oh my ohhhh my Patricia,

      Not gonna lie. I just lost it LAUGHING. You poor thing.. and at the same time… you are a superstar.

      The next time I walk the Champs Elysées … I want to walk it with you.

      🙂 xx

  11. kellyColo says:

    oh merde…i hope i didn’t make a faux pas by posting that link. completely innocent i swear….perhaps you need to write a post on blog manners. At least for me…

    • Hahaha !

      You are all good. The link is lovely. You are not linking to hot pants and porn – so your link is safe with me 🙂 !

      I can’t wait to check it out !

      Bisous !

  12. kellyColo says:

    You’re so damn funny….I laugh until I cry at some of your posts…thank you for that! I truly feel the stress slowly drain out of my head and body, and just enjoy the moment. I sent this to a friend that has lived in Paris for a year. http://www.viewsfrommykitchensink.com Pam is a NewEnglander and has some fun stories as well. She always says WTF!! (welcome to France). Can’t wait to read what’s next with you Lynne. Hope hubby is doing well these days. xx!

    • Hi Kelly

      I went and checked out Pam’s site and wanted to say a big THANK YOU. Her photos are beautiful and her blog posts took me back to Paris again and again. Ahhhhhh…

      Thank ya ma’am xxo

  13. Becky says:


    You crack my shit up….

    The only time I was in Paris was with my boyfriend……and our mothers…..

    You ever attempted a romantic stroll down the Champs Elysées with your mom trailing behind you?

    Yeah, that shit ain’t possible….

    Please take me to Paris with you. We can drink wine and reenact romantic movie scenes. Sans mothers this time…..


    • Oh my Becky

      You strolled Champs Elysées WITH YOUR MOTHERS ? Ohhhh the romance 🙂

      Champs Elysées is a cray cray street isn’t it? I swear there isn’t a Parisian on that street. Tourists tourists tourists. Yikes.

      It is a must see but not my fave place to shop.

      You need to get back to Paris just so you can do more of that gorgy gorgeous artiste stuff 🙂

      Mwah !
      Lynne xx

  14. Jenn Brouwer says:

    HYSTERiCAL – Smiling so hard my cheeks are sore!!!
    Paris is and has been on my bucket list for some time – Thank goodness I have been saved by yet another brilliant social media share. Thank you –
    Merci (only word I know ?)

    I will wear the post it proud 🙂 – I had noooooooo idea…..

    • haha … too funny Jenn,

      ‘ I will wear the post it proud ‘…. well, my friend…. at least you will look gorgeous. You are always a stunner.

      Bisous ( that means kisses )… now you know two French words 🙂

      Lynne xx

  15. joanne says:

    Bonjour Madame!

    Probably the most important thing I learned whilst in France. say hello to everyone – but most especially to the shopkeepers! They will not help you if you don’t say hello.

    That tip carries over to NYC shopkeepers… the little boutiques, where you just want to browse? just say hello and make eye contact when you go inside – acknowledge the person working there, and they are much more comfortable with you in the store. Even if you’re just browsing.

    A little bit of manners goes a very long way.

    • Oh Joanne,

      You sure hit the nail on the head with that one. So true !!!

      A little hello and eye contact means everything to a shopkeeper and can make or break the entire shopping experience.

      You know, I didn’t know that about NYC. I will be going back to NYC in December… and now I will do the same there.

      THANK YOU for that hot tip !

      Lynne xx

  16. Lynette Oh says:

    Bonjour Madame

    I love this post !! I have never been to Paris, only to Prague and Vienna. Everything i hear or see abt Paris are from movies, pics and of cos this blog post! I hearts Paris!! Was planning to have a trip to Paris and if possible staying in Europe for 6 mths! I love love love all the tips on this post, i am writing down all yr tips for my Paris trip! Merci bien !

    P.S thats all the french words i know for now. (better to Study hard for french language) 😀

    • Merci bien ! That’s a good one Lynette ! It is often used in Paris.

      If you plan on living there, really truly… get the free Coffee Break French podcasts that I mentioned in the blog post. They changed my frenchie life… and they give great tips on how to manage in Paris too.

      A six month stay in Europe?!!! Oh la la that would be sooooo FAB !! Do you have room to stuff me in your suitcase?

      Lynne xx

  17. Trevia says:

    This was too funny and oh soooo true! pahaha Loved it. I can totally attest to the “little-miss-bad-ass-frenchie-attitude”. I have airport stories you wouldn’t believe… gahh lee!

    • Trevia,

      How could I forget to write about the airport?!! Thanks for the reminder … the airport is the worst. I hope tourists realize that the Frenchies that work at the airport are not an indication of what Parisians are like.

      The airport gives French people a bad rap. It’s crazy, because you would think that the airport staff would be the most ‘international’ of all. NOPE. They make Parisians look warm and fuzzy compared to their attitude. LOL.


  18. Carolyn says:

    We were in Paris this summer with our teenage kids. My husband and I had dinner reservations without the kids so we had to find something for them to eat…on a Sunday!! Ooops! We finally got them something from the Monoprix close to our hotel, they had a section with ready-to-eat food. I thought I had researched everything, I obviously goofed on that one!!
    I also agree with the no-sweatpants-no gym shoes rule, I think it’s simply a sign of respect to those around you! Parisians care about how they look to others, but, I do not understand the apparent disregard for the fact that cigarettes are bad for your health!?! SO many smokers in Paris! Don’t get it!
    I will also add that the stereotype of the rude Parisian is something we never encountered, on this trip or our previous one in 2009.

  19. NikiDee says:

    I was in Paris for about 5 seconds, years ago. Waaaay to fast to enjoy but i WAS insulted by a waiter (to which i laughed since it took all of landing & 20 min later i enjoyed the epitome of french waiters). I have always wanted to spend some real time in Paris. My heritage is french. Both my parents great-grandparents came from the same town in France. My dad is from Quebec. Mom’s family ended up in California USA. My brilliant dad moved to California, met mom & decided NOT to teach me french!!!!!! @()%*@!!! As a teenager I thought I had french class in the bag. I used my dad to “help” answer all my homework….I got a “D”. Perhaps he wasn’t able to teach me french….n’est-ce pas?

    • NikiDee says:

      Actually I MEANT to say my parents GRANDparents (my great grandparents) came from the same place in France…but I thought your offer of drink more wine was a good one….and it showed in my typing….

      • Hahahahaaaa NikiDee

        You are hilarious ! Sip. Hiccup. Sip. Hiccup. I like you already.

        Learning French by the book is tough stuff, man. Really. All that grammar. Oh la la. All those verbs.

        When I finally listened to the coffee break french podcasts it was a GAME CHANGER. The podcasts taught me how to walk into a restaurant and order wine, with a yummy meal. Real shit. Yesssss. Hence, that explains all the wine drinking.

        Lynne xx

  20. Tara @ Suburble says:

    Love this post! We went to Paris during a European trip (where we ran around the continent like chickens with our heads cut-off… lesson learned – things are appreciated so much more when you take your time). I loved Paris, but it was intimidating as well. We walked into the Louvre and realized, “We could spend days here. And we only have a few days in this city!” We chose one exhibit, spent time there, and then left.

    My hubby also made the HUGE mistake of putting his feet up on a chair at a Parisian bistro. The server was horrified and actually knocked his feet off of the chair. Manners – you have to have them in Paris.

    But we tried to speak French first, whenever we could. As long as you can say, “Where is the…?” and “I need the…?” You can get there. And we always apologized profusely.. People seemed to like the humility.

    How cool that you lived in Paris. Did you go to the Patisseries and buy a loaf of bread every morning? I SO loved that part of French life. (And the wine… the wine was pretty rad too)

    • Hi Tara,

      Soooo true about the manners. Oh la la. The same foot on chair rule applies in the metro too. Even if you are on a looooong metro ride, it is very poor taste to put your foot on a chair. Funny, after a while, the rules almost make sense. haha.

      We did buy fresh bread every morning (just ask my waistline LOL) and our groceries every single day. We didn’t have a car, so we bought at a local market/grocery store and used a trolley to cart our groceries home.

      In Toronto, only 90 year old women do that. In Paris, it is real life and I loved it.

      So true about the Louvre! Ha. I used to laugh that I could go to see Mona Lisa and an Apple Genius in the same day (they are in the same building. hahahaa)


  21. lisa thomson says:

    Awesome! OOPS I mean ‘not bad’. Love your tips, Lynne! One I would add is don’t taste the house wine and make a sour face-they don’t like that. The house wine is the same in all cafes Pouilly Fusse or something like that. Suck it up, you’re not in Napa, Dorothy.

    I would love to go to Paris with you Lynne and some of the cool people here!

    • Hey Lisa,

      So true about the wine. We have two wonderful friends who are true Parisians through and through and they told us that there is no need to buy super expensive wine in Paris.

      The house wines or other wines that you can buy for 5 euros are brilliantly tasty. I tested this theory. It is true. Delish 🙂 xx

  22. Rachel says:

    Would love to go. Was recently in Denmark with work colleagues from the US who had recently spent a few days in Paris–they would have benefitted from your blog as their Parisian experience was not too great. Hoping that my Grade 12 French will assist me at some point 🙂

  23. been to Paris…twice…first time with sister…played the two blond women who need help from lovely Parisians – worked wonderfully- had a grand time. second time with ex-husband…not as grand for obvious reasons…but still had good food and wine…and a fabulous umbrella that I still have to this day!

  24. carolanne says:

    that was fun, sounded just like Montreal… lol we moved to Calgary 14 years ago & I do not miss quebec… but that said I would love to visit Paris and if lucky will someday. x

    • Carolanne

      It must be coolio living in Calgary ! Yippeeee. A Canuck.

      I have only been to Quebec a couple of times, and because my hubs was born in Quebec, he said that it is actually WORSE in Quebec for French language speaking.

      The great thaaaang about Paris is that the students learn English (and oh so many other languages throughout their school years).

      With Quebec… it is FRENCH. or French. Or a bit more French. Non?

      Oddly enough, Michael had to ‘unlearn’ some Quebecois french expressions and learn the Parisian expressions. I must say tho… the language… ohhhh so beautiful ! xx

  25. Pete Walker says:

    My (ex) wife and I arrived in Paris for a 10 day stay at a little hotel in Paris just near the Arc de Triomphe. We were exhausted. We walked into the…intimate…lobby, and were immediately recognized as Americans. Lips were curled.. Nostrils were flared. Moues of disdain were executed.. Not being particularly fond of this sort of treatment, I thought for a second, and then in my best four-years-of-high-school French, I said, (IN FRENCH), the following:

    Attention everyone, if you please. ((Pause for eye-rolling, scoffing, and other derisive behavior…)) We are certainly American, and I am sorry for it. However, I would like you all to know this: I did NOT vote for George Bush. Thank you for listening.

    People hugged us. Seriously. They bought us wine. They offered to show us around the city. One guy took me aside and said if I could get rid of my wife he knew a little bar where this young girl… I cut him off with a courteous but firm “merci beaucoup mille fois”, but I mean, come on.

    It was my anniversary.

    So, Paris, pretty much if you love them and don’t take shit from anyone, you’re in good shape.

    Plus if you’re an eight-year-old on a school field trip to a museum?

    It’s probably the frigging Louvre. No wonder they think we’re uncultured..

    One question about the trip to Paris – women only? WTF is up with that?

    • Ah Pete,

      You have me speechless. Once again.

      Ohhh to be a fly on the wall when you made your Frenchie announcement about your voting choices. haha. You are a hoot.

      Sorry dude. Only girls allowed in Paris. Because we are cooler. 🙂 and we wear skirts.

      Are you willing to wear a skirt ?

  26. Paul Gerber says:

    Too funny Lynn! Been to Paris…pretty accurate! It’s funny though…my…ahem… passable (kinda sorta) passable french that I for some reason wasn’t as afraid to speak in France as I am in Québec usually garnered me responses in English!

    I laughed at your comment about “if you got your food”…had a similar experience in Switzerland, the country of my ancestry. The french have a saying about the swiss “il n’y a pas de feu au lac” (there’s no fire on the lake)…and this was shown in spades when after a meal in a restaurant in Interlaken, after waiting for at least 20-30 minutes for the bill I had to go stand at the cash register to get the waitresses attention (like that would ever happen in North America where you get dirty looks some places if you linger at your table for 30 seconds after you swallow you last mouthful because they have to “turn” that table for the next bill…errrr…customer). After enduring poor service all evening (and she knew I was Canadian because I showed her my passport for my family name), began speaking my passable french and it was like I was speaking to a different waitress “thank you for dining with us, come back soon”…I doubt she was impressed with my gratuité, but I refrained from leaving what she deserved ($0.01) and decided to leave less! LOL

    • Good on ya Paul for speaking French in Paris !! I think the good news is that you spoke in French, and then (a positive thing)… the French will speak English to you out of politeness and ease for you. So sweet 🙂

      Switzerland is oh soooo cool… too bad the waitress was a crank pants. I love how many languages are spoken in Switzerland.

      I have found when I got stuck in Switzerland with language barriers, I spoke French. Ha! Worked every time. xx

  27. Jo Ann says:

    I have a couple of stories about faux pas fans LA belle Paris. I’ll tell the one about ordering lamb inners with my poor and tired french another time.

    My favorite Ugly American story occurred while in line at the Louvre Cafe. A. gentleman from the Northeast (think Badda-Bing, gold chains, sunglasses inside, visible chest hair) was screaming at the cashier because she didn’t take US currency. In an effort to rationalize I interjected that he consider that they don’t accept Euros at a Yankees game. I thought he was going to punch me and when my turn at the counter, the cashier treated me with disdain. This guy furthered the dislike of Americans to the point that this cashier could not discern those of us who get and those who do not. This is my go to story when people complain about the French.

    • Yuck, you ordered lamb inners ? Okay, I am dying to hear that story too ! haha !

      The GoTo story 🙂 is a good one tooooo.

      I should just take my list of 15 items, and blow them up in a poster format and hang them at the Louvre.


      Lynne xx

  28. babs says:

    I went to Paris on a student tour years ago. Most of the students hooked up with boy friends or girl friends while in Venice and then dumped each other and changed to new ones by the time we got to Paris. Oh what fun! Nothing like young love in Paris! I had a great experience! And yes, the French were arrogant, but very patient with my high school French. The beauty, art, and culture (men. wine, and croissants) of Paris is worth all the rudeness. Now I think I need to have some wine and put Prague on my bucket list!

    • Well, it sounds to me Babs, that you did the perfect thaaang while in Paris.

      Paris is, after all… the sultry sexy city of love 🙂

      The French are so kind when you just try a bit of wee French speaking attempts, aren’t they? LOVE.


  29. That was funny Lynne. And true! You forgot 1 thing, though. In Paris you must look good. Doesn’t matter if it’s freezing cold and snowing, and you have to walk 10 miles to get somewhere, you’d better figure out how to do it in elegant shoes. And you need to get thin. And feed your kids wine with their dinner. Then if you keep your mouth shut and look slightly bored with a hint of superior and aloof, you’ll fit right in. And I say that in the nicest possible way, because I love Parisians. At least they have something to be superior about, because that city is over the top cool. One solution might be to travel with lots of fun girlfriends because then you’ll be drinking wine and laughing all the time and not notice the haughty stares.

    • My (two) friends in Paris used to say… if the kids can see over the counter, they may have a glass of wine with dinner 🙂

      It is a stunner of a city, isn’t it Dani ?!

      Paris and girlfriends… oh la la… who could ask for more?


  30. Shakila says:

    Oh this is a welcome retreat from the usual ooh la la Frenchie posts from the blogoshpere. I will have to re-read when I finally make it there one of these days. Have you been to Iceland at all? Being so close, I would definitely recommend. It really is out of this world! And you probably don’t need to read a list like this to get there 😉

    • Iceland?

      Wowsers Shakila ~ I have never been to Iceland. I bet it is beautiful tho !!

      Where do you live?

      Now I need to put Prague, Ireland AND Iceland on my bucket list. Travel is a beautiful thaaang.


      • Shakila says:

        Yup, a swim in the Blue Lagoon will do a person wonders for sure. We travelled with a 4 year old and a 1 year old and it was fabulous even though they refused to get with GMT 🙂 We just moved to the SF Bay Area from Chicago. Its not half bad here either!

  31. Mark says:

    LOL – awesome list! I can see despite how drop-dead beautiful Paris is we were not made for one another! Everything I read on the list I probably did in just five nights. HA!

    Darn, but it’s still so beautiful I dream of going back anyway. 😉

    • No worries Mark… we all do it. You only did it for 5 nights? I did it for about a year. haha!

      I say….GO BACK FOR MORE 🙂 ….

      Lynne xx

      • Mark says:

        I spent a month in Ireland followed by just five nights in Paris. I know it’s not enough to get more than a vague whiff of the air in a place, but I didn’t have the time or money for more. Some day, definitely again. Despite some incompatibility on my part, I still marvel at how beautiful Paris was…

  32. Craig says:

    Whenever I need a little French moment, I pour a glass
    Of red and say… ” Chev-ro-let ” ….works every time…
    Oops gotta go, I think it’s one of those moments… Thanks
    Au revoir….

  33. Hope says:

    Lynne: Thank you for the tips. I visited a year ago for a week and found the Parisians very friendly. Only one incident with a street vendor and that made me laugh. Also, I was committed to learning French so purchased Rosetta Stone. LOL. Not many understood my attempts with addresses; however, I did begin every mouth opening attempt with Bonjour. That is a must!

    Favorite places – L’Hotel where I stayed. Le Jules Verne – walked right up to the awning, took the elevator up, had the most fascinating lunch while in Paris. And views from the Eiffel Tower were amazing. But my favorite shopping experience (and there were many) involved an art store near the University/Institute Gallerie Bre’heret. The gentleman was so very cute, laughed at everything I said. I purchased several pieces that I adore but didn’t have the nerve to ask him out for a drink.

    Perhaps when I return. I can’t wait to go back!!!

    Cheers, Hope

    • Cute!
      You wouldn’t happen to remember the name of the art store?
      I also stayed at L”Hotel and loved it!


    • Hi Hope,

      I have heard of many people buying Rosetta Stone CDs for learning languages. Did you like it? Did it work? Was it expensive? Oh la la, so many questions 🙂

      I found the free version of Coffee break French podcasts were super and when I was ready to really ramp it up, I paid for an upgraded version with pdf’s etc. It was still less money than two french lesson in Paris…. so I was happy. It was so practical for real life stuff in Paris. Like how to order meals etc.

      Great tip for the art store !!! Thank you !!! I am going there on my next trip foooshur.

      Time for you to go back and ask the cutie out for a drink !

      Lynne xx

  34. Heather says:

    I am Canandian and speak very little French. My attempts were appreciated. And my accent improved with each glass of wine. LOVED Paris. Favourite comment of the trip…Two Americans……..”I will be happy to get home……..all they have here is French food”. ” had to go to MacDonalds to get some decent food “

    • Hahaha Heather !

      You go girl ! LOVE how your french improved with wine.

      And baahhahahaa…. ‘ all they have is french food’ …. too funny.

      Did you ever have the banana nutella crepes on the streets of Paris? Oh la la.

      Lynne xx

  35. jaine gayer says:

    Lynne, you are absolutely right about the sweatpants. Only saw one woman in athletic clothes when I was there for the first time last December and she was an American. And the metro is cheap and easy to use, smells a little, but cheap, fast and easy. Can’t wait to go back!
    Have you been to Prague? I was there 4 weeks ago. I thought it was even better than Paris.

    • Cray cray but true, Jaine ~

      I once wore a pair of lululemon pants out (in public- gasp) and my neighbour asked me if I was planning on going for a run. Bahhhh.

      So true about the Metro too. It can be a bit stinky at times, but man oh man… a great solution for getting around the city.

      We discovered a little late night dinner trick about taxi rides. If you ask the restaurant/waiter to call a cab for you after dinner…. it works !!

      Suddenly, a cabbie arrives right at the restaurant door. Ahhhh.


    • Hello Jaine…I also love Prague. It’s magical!!


    • I forgot to mention Jaine…

      I have never been to Prague. Looks like I better get it on my bucket list ! It sounds beautiful !


  36. Tracy Black says:

    I took my 16-year-old to Paris for a week (Like that wasn’t a nightmare waiting to happen) and had a great experience with Parisians. Sure, they were exasperated with my language skills – lacking – but helped us out all the same. I remember a busy woman who saw us struggling with directions…she dealt with us the way you’d deal with a toddler who asked for the same cookie forty times, but still, she took the time to stop and help. Waiters for the most part were patient – not always, but we went there thinking we were in for rudness to the nth degree and we pleasantly surprised. While my daughter was sketching at the Louvre, I had a great conversation with a guard in my bad french, and he could not have been kinder or funnier. I’d go back there in a heartbeat!!

    • Such a great point Tracy

      It is true. The more we effort with a bit of Frenchiness… the better the experience is. Even just a teenie weenie bit.

      Oh my gosh… ‘toddler who asked for a cookie forty times’ haha !!!

      The pleasant surprise is always FAB. It is like EXPECTING spilled milk at the dinner table with kids, and you are pleasantly surprised when dinner goes off without a hitch.

      Woot woot !
      Lynne xx

  37. Carol Ross says:

    There are NO fat women in Paris. None. Zero. Zip. If you are on the hefty side(yeah ok I confess I was) be prepared for the look. I just didn’t care about the look I WAS IN PARIS! I loved every single minute!

    • Carol ~

      So true ! I always wondered how the heck they did it. I think it is the walking, walking, walking and not a whole heck of a lot of fast food options.

      Who knows? I know I gained weight when I lived there. It might have had something to do with the non stop croissants and pain au chocolat every morning.


      🙂 xx

  38. Cindy says:

    I remember being in Paris on my honeymoon. The first restaurant we tried, we couldn’t get anyone to wait on us. We decided to go back to the restaurant that had a sign on their menu that said, “we speak English”, it was the best meal ever! I never would have believed it, but there is an attitude.

    Love net flicks, best thing since sliced bread. There is an interesting movie called Haute Cuisine. It is the story of Hortense Laborie’s experience as personal chef for the president of France. Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you Cindy !
      I am going to totally check that out on NetFlix.

      I have been addicted to ‘Orange is the new Black’ on NetFlix these days. Watching back to back episodes while eating popcorn… is heavenly 🙂

      Great story about the french meal !! I loved it !! It is so FAB when things like that happen. So beautifully memorable !! xx

  39. Meesh says:

    Bonjour, Madame. 🙂 Great post and oh, so true! Love your photos.

  40. Danica says:

    Ummmmmmmmmmm I have NEVER been to Paris!!! (Remember that issue I have with a husband who won’t fly) I don’t care I would leave him behind to see Paris(don’t tell him I said that)

    I’m pretty sure #1 and #4 are very important tips that I must remember!

    • Too funny Danica

      You are right….We must never ever never tell the hubs about my airline terrorist story… nor can we tell him about any crazy Paris happenins’. Let’s not freak him out.

      A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

      Anyway, he has a gorgeous garage build to focus on. How is that shopping mall of a garage going? I can’t wait to see it when it is done.